Dr. Wendy Thomas is a professor in the UW Department of Bioengineering. She received her A.B. in molecular biology from Princeton University, and both a M.S. in applied mathematics and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Washington. Dr. Thomas’s main research focus is developing new smart medical adhesives by using biological adhesive molecules that can be triggered to bind or dissociate. Dr. Thomas teaches Solid and Gel Mechanics (BIOEN 326) in addition to Computational Bioengineering (BIOEN 485/585).
“When I tried to get pregnant in my thirties, I discovered I was infertile. This was difficult for me because I always wanted to be pregnant and raise kids. I also wanted to pursue my career, but was prepared to build my career goals around parenthood. It would have been more devastating to fail in my career.
I went through fertility treatments without success. Then my wife and I considered adopting, but faced immense challenges because of our demographics as an older gay couple. Finally, I embraced my role as a mentor and role model for kids and young adults, especially at work, and grieved my loss. Together these steps allowed me to find peace and enjoyment. Ironically, my wife and I were then asked to raise the child of a relative, so I am now a happily exhausted older parent. Remarkably, I may be happier now than if I had succeeded in my original goal, because I can’t imagine a more wonderful child. I also discovered that I didn’t need to sacrifice my career goals to be a deeply involved parent.
While it’s good to keep trying, success sometimes means being willing to quit a goal in order to grieve that loss and find a new path that satisfies the same needs. There are many trails that are right for each of us, and the new journey we take will lead to the same or even a better place.”